What's with "Warning - PDF"?

I’ve seen several instances of “Warning - PDF” statements on these boards. The first post in this thread is an example:

The tone of this comes across as if a PDF was some sort of virus infested file that would swallow my computer whole.

Beside having to download the free Adobe reader, what is the downside to PDFs? I have never had any problem with them, so I’m left wondering why all the warnings?

Well, personally, I think Adobe Reader is an awful program that tends to crash browsers too easily and can hang the browser with that stupid update thing. That’s one reason. Another is that it’s a holdover from when more people had dial-up and opening a 2-3 MB PDF file could take half-an-hour and kill your bandwith in the meantime. The warning probably isn’t needed as much these days, but it lives on for those reasons.

Many people want to know if their computer’s going to have to think & churn for a few moments while starting up Adobe Reader to display the file in question; if it doesn’t seem to be essential to read, they can save time & skip it. It’s not as much of a problem as it once was, what with faster systems these days, but it’s still a nice courtesy for those of us with older machines.

Even if they don’t mean to, they can still act very virus-like. PDF’s are among the few things that can crash my computer these days. Adobe’s software is horribly bloated and inefficient even if though they pioneer some good technology. Those programs can just load and load and then hang indefinetely even if you have a supercomputer.

That has created a “market” if you call it that for (free) readers that replace the Adobe Reader to reduce the problem. Google also converts many PDFs to HTML so that you don’t have to deal with a PDF reader at all.

I just put it there as a courtesy really. If I come across a link that is a PDF I’ll usually right click the link and save it somewhere rather than just clicking it. I usually check the file extension of any link before clicking it, but it bugs me when i forget to check and a large PDF opens and my browser grinds to a halt while it opens. Perhaps “Warning” was a bit strong though.

Even with a fast machine and fast connection, PDFs take longer to load than a web page. While “warning” is not as applicable as it once was, it is nice to let people know what they’re getting into.

For those who hate Acrobat, check out Foxit Reader. It’s so clean comparatively!

Oh trust me, it’s still applicable.

A very good question, but I think we’ll put it in ATMB.


I have a broadband connection on a normal Windows based Gateway PC. But anytime I accidentally click on a PDF file, I lose my online connection. And I usually have to reboot my computer. A warning is quite appropriate.

I’ll second Foxit. After trying it out for a day, I uninstalled Acrobat. Foxit is a much smaller program and is much faster.

You can at least rid yourself of the update annoyance. Open Adobe Reader and go to Preferences (under the Edit menu). Select Updates and put a tick in the box marked ‘Do not automatically check for critical updates’. You can then check for updates manually at a time of your own choosing.

My main problem with PDFs is that they take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to load. Incidentally, I’ve heard that Microsoft is developing a document format to compete with PDFs. Naturally, Adobe is trying to kibosh this by bitching and whining about anti-trust concerns.

I had never heard of Foxit, but I checked it out after reading this thread. I read their license and it seems to forbid loading it from your browser. That would seem to preclude using it to read stuff on the web.

I used to find in Firefox that if I clicked on a PDF link and then tried to switch to another tab (which is typical of my browsing habits), then it would crash my computer. I’m not sure if this happens less often now because Firefox and/or Acrobat has improved, or if it’s because I installed an extension called PDF Download that pops up to ask me if I want to download the file, open it as PDF, open as HTML or cancel. I suspect the latter.

With vB, the easy way to let people know a link is a PDF is to not format the link. vB’s automatic link formatting shows the end of the url, so everyone can see the extension.